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Spurs’ Elliott Hopes To Play Soon

January 21, 2000

SAN ANTONIO (AP) _ San Antonio Spurs forward Sean Elliott said Thursday he has been cleared to play, five months after receiving a kidney transplant, but team officials are skeptical at how quickly he can return.

``He said he was cleared to play and I said, `No, you’re not,′ not until I see things in writing _ then he’s cleared,″ Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

``The decision is up to Sean Elliott, not me. The doctors can clear him, but the ultimate decision is Sean Elliott’s. With me, it comes down to whether he can help the team, not if the doctors can clear him.″

Elliott underwent a kidney transplant on Aug. 16, receiving the organ from his brother, Noel Elliott.

Elliott had been practicing with the NBA champions for nearly a month, but has yet to participate in contact drills. While he has joined teammates in conditioning drills, Elliott has spent most of his practice time alone, running sprints and stairs.

After Thursday’s practice, Elliott proclaimed himself ready to take the next step.

``As it looks right now, they’re going to clear me and I’ll be ready to mix it up,″ Elliott said. ``I feel pretty good. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in since I got out of the hospital. When I came back, I was surprised at how good I was feeling.″

Elliott, who has been serving as a color commentator for Spurs telecasts, missed several games and spent a few days in the hospital with a bout of the flu in December.

Spurs media relations director Tom James joined Popovich in hesitating to say Elliott was completely back.

``He’s coming back, but coming back is a very broad term,″ James said. ``This is unchartered territory for us and for him. It’s great news, but people shouldn’t expect to see him in uniform Saturday night.″

James said he expected Popovich, Elliott and Elliott’s doctors to sit down early next week to discuss just how close Elliott is to returning.

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